Three sophomores want to bake for you.
College sophomores Alina Wong and Rachel Stewart and Wharton sophomore Roopa Shankar started baking for fun during their free time. The pastime became a regular activity, and soon the three were baking on a weekly basis. One night, Shankar shared one of their creations with a friend, who told her it was good enough to sell. A seed was planted in their minds.
Wong, Stewart and Shankar started meeting at the Starbucks under 1920s Commons on Locust Walk to talk about the business potential of baking. “We knew we wanted something quirky, something funky, something slightly nonsensical,” Wong said. NOMsense, their new venture’s name, was inspired by the word “nonsense” and the foodie phrase “noms.” The girls even sign emails “NOMly Yours” and like to describe creations as “pheNOMenal.”
Shankar said the bakery will aim for “weird desserts that work.” Cookie sandwiches with a twist are their signature item. According to Wong, each sandwich includes “two innovative cookies, a never-before done filling, a drizzle and a topping.”
Wong, Stewart and Shankar spent hours playing around with recipes and ingredients to create the most unique product they could - they wanted to give Penn students something they had never tasted before. After several small-scale tastings that tested several flavors and recipes, the girls settled on four they liked best and started a marketing campaign.
The girls intend to run NOMsense like any small business. They created spreadsheets to track finances, made a Facebook page and spread the word through sorority listervs. During sororities’ Big-Little Weeks, NOMSense offered a special care package promotion. It has also catered some events in the past few months. NOMSense is planning to choose a logo and is in the process of creating a website before the official business launch at the end of March.
They are in the process of creating a website and are hosting tasting nights and “pop-up events,” including one tonight in Harnwell’s third floor lounge that was fully registered in advance. Attendees agree to be part of a focus group and pay $3 for three cookie sandwiches. The flavors include “Chocomon,” “Caramelie” and “Lemograham.” Package deliveries will also be offered for special occasions.
Eventually, the girls aspire to expand from Penn’s campus to other schools in the future. “We’d love to work with other baking-obsessed college students to implement NOMsense on their respective campuses, and spread cookie sandwich love as far as we can,” Wong said.
This article has been updated to reflect that the Wong, Stewart and Shankar do not all live together.